Gator fans may be thinking, “receivers? I remember when we had those guys!”
Fear not Gator fans, there is talent on the roster and finally an offense that promises to utilize that talent correctly. Getting the ball into playmakers hands quickly, all over the field; hitting short screens and quick slants and drags to draw the defense in before going over the top to stretch the defense vertically.
It’s what Kurt Roper was able to implement at Duke. At Florida, presumably, he has more talent to work with than he had a Duke, albeit if he is playing against a much more daunting schedule.
The wide receivers will make a return to Gainesville, Florida or Florida will suffer a season more like 2013 than a rebound year like 2012.
The Two Deep:
X: Quinton Dunbar (R-Sr.), Chris Thompson (So.) OR Andre Debose (R-Sr.)
Quinton Dunbar is the old man of the receiving group. Dunbar is coming off of his first season since his redshirt year in 2010 where he didn’t haul in a touchdown. Dunbar has progressed and improved each and every season but with the finality of his college career staring him in the face, it’s now or never for Dunbar to break out and be the go-to guy that Florida hasn’t had at receiver since Riley Cooper and Percy Harvin were catching passes.
Debose is returning for a sixth season in Gainesville. He sat out the spring, allowing Chris Thompson to shine in a new offense geared towards his strengths. However, when healthy, Debose can be the home run threat Florida needs. Thompson impressed the coaching staff this spring and at the end of last season. He’s earned his playing time and will get to see the field in 2014.
Personally, I don’t know what to expect from Debose. Prior to his injury last season people around the program were talking about how Debose had made a turn, how he was approaching practice and his responsibilities the right way.
His injury was a setback, but if Debose continues to approach the game the right way he could make a push to finish his career off right.
Z: Ahmad Fulwood (So.), Demarcus Robinson (So.)
Although not the most talked about receiver, Ahmad Fulwood was the more productive freshmen of this duo.
Fulwood is a big-bodied receiver who will get a chance to show his physicality blocking for screens as well as becoming a target on drags and slants to get the ball into his hands quickly. At 6-4, and more than 200 pounds, Fulwood is a load to bring down and good after the catch.
Robinson has all the promise and potential in the world; he just needs to get out of his own way. His head coach told him to “act right” during his freshman season and by all accounts Robinson has taken that advice (or demand) with a serious attitude.
If Robinson can remain eligible and healthy he could terrorize defenses with his speed and play-making ability. He’s a touchdown waiting to happen in space and can blow the top off of a defense with his speed.
Slot: Latroy Pittman (Jr.), Valdez Showers (R-Jr.)
Florida will run more three and four wide receivers sets this season. That means an increased workload and a need for more receivers to step into bigger roles. That opened the door for Latroy Pittman, who has been used mainly as a blocker in his first two seasons, as well as Valdez Showers — who moved over to the offense prior to last season.
Showers is an interesting player here. Showers was typically one of the last players off of the field this spring. The defensive convert would break the practice-ending huddle and make a beeline for the JUGS machine. After hours of practice, Showers would stand in front of a machine catching balls, honing his hands. Sometimes he would have company and he and teammates would get in extra work together but a lot of times it was just Showers, putting in the extra work that not many people see.
C.J. Worton (Fr.), Raphael Andrades (Jr.), Alvin Bailey (So.), Ryan Sousa (Fr.)
Alvin Bailey was seemingly buried on the depth chart last season, not a good offense who seldom used three true wide receivers. This spread offense is right up his alley and he could find time in the slot.
C.J. Worton will challenge for time in the slot as well. The possession receiver will enroll at Florida on Tuesday and get to work building a relationship with his quarterback and acclimating to a new playbook and the college game.